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Clearwire can resell the Expedience PC Card from Motorola: The card will offer 1.5 Mbps downstream and 128 Kbps upstream according to sources. Pricing hasn’t yet been set, but it’s likely that Clearwire will establish home areas and charge a monthly roaming fee to access out-of-metro-area services. The card is not WiMax, and you’ll note the press release talks about “WiMax class” products and networks. It uses the NextNet Expedience technology, a proprietary standard that runs Clearwire’s current network, and which was part of what Clearwire spun off to Motorola with the NextNet sale.
Netgear has made a router that allows Flarion network users to share their connections via Wi-Fi: It’s essentially a Wi-Fi router that uses Flarion for backhaul. A couple of small operators in the U.S. are commercially offering services using Flarion’s technology. A few companies make similar types of routers that allow subscribers to cellular data networks to share connectivity using Wi-Fi.
My hometown will be Clearwire’s 10th market: Eugene is a little island of population in the middle of Oregon, about 100 miles from the Portland megalopolis which encompasses much of the citizenry of the state. And despite Eugene’s strong blue-collar roots in lumber and other industry, there’s a big lump of academia and service in the middle.
Clearwire’s technology offers 1.5 Mbps for about $30 to $40 per month through wireless data sent over licensed spectrum. The company has chosen smaller cities in which there’s a good chunk of population with fewer options. Eugene has the duopolies but not much else, and a good part of the city is spread out making it harder to get full-speed DSL.
IPWireless is making its technology available for use in the 450 MHz band: Some countries in Europe have recently distributed licenses for spectrum in the band and others are in the process of doing so. The IPWireless solution could be particularly attractive to operators because it supports roaming between an IPWireless network built using the 450 MHz band and UMTS in the 3G bands. I believe the solution only supports roaming between an HSDPA network and the IPWireless technology.
This offering definitely opens the door for IPWireless, mainly because it is allows for roaming between existing UMTS networks. Because the solution is compatible with existing UMTS networks, operators aren’t required to essentially build a totally separate network that can only attract a new customer base.
Flarion also recently announced that it, together with Siemens, is developing a 450 MHz solution. Flarion’s solution will be available in the second quarter this year. I don’t believe that operators that use the Flarion solution will be able to allow roaming between it and UMTS networks. However, Flarion may be pursuing a slightly different market. Its press release notes that specifically operators in Eastern Europe without UMTS licenses are looking for alternatives. The 450 MHz band and a greenfield deployment of something like Flarion’s technology could appeal to them.
Update: When I first posted this item this morning, I said that I wasn’t aware of other technologies available in the 450 MHz band and I surmised that Flarion and IPWireless may be looking for a first mover advantage. However, I’ve since learned that Nortel has developed CDMA gear that operates at 450 MHz and other vendors may offer similar products.
Also, an IPWireless press representative tells me that the IPWireless 450 MHz gear will be commercial by October this year.
ABD Networks is building a network to cover the 100 square miles of Mauritius, an island in the south west Indian Ocean: The operator considered DSL and cable, but the terrain of the island is too rugged. The operator also required a non-line-of-sight solution to get around the mountains. Navini is a member of the WiMax Forum and says that ADB is “superbly positioned” to take advantage of WiMax, which I suspect means that Navini hopes to be able to upgrade the network to be WiMax compliant.
It’s a sad day for those lucky folks in North Carolina who have been using Nextel’s mobile broadband wireless network: Nextel has sent emails to customers letting them know that the service will be shut down in June. The network, which Nextel originally called a trial but then upgraded to a fully commercial offering, uses gear from Flarion. Some are saying that the merger with Sprint, which recently joined the WiMax Forum, may have led to Nextel’s decision to put an end to the Flarion network. Sprint has reportedly trialed Flarion’s equipment but believes WiMax is a better bet.
It’s really too bad, because I’ve seen nothing but rave reviews from folks using the network. It seems to work well and is particularly valuable because customers can access the network anywhere in the coverage area, not just their homes or offices. The capability puts WiMax to shame, as WiMax equipment isn’t available and won’t initially offer a portable or mobile capability.
The choice of WiMax over Flarion despite the fact that Flarion gear is available and seems to work well, may be a powerful statement regarding the importance of standards. The lack of a standard has certainly been Flarion’s biggest stumbling block, as operators hesitate to choose a technology platform that isn’t supported by a very wide array of vendors.
At the same time, Flarion also announced an upgrade to its offering which would deliver 6 Mbps in a 5 MHz wide channel. At peak throughputs, Flarion claims that the network could support 186 voice over IP calls per sector.
Germany recently awarded 450 MHz spectrum to Deutsche Telekom and Inquam: Any country that opens up or awards new 450 MHz spectrum presents an opportunity for Flarion, Ronny Harldsvik, a Flarion spokesman, said via email. The spectrum is ideal for CDMA DO or Flarion’s FLASH-OFDM, he said. Flarion is working with Siemens on developing the 450 MHz gear.
T-Mobile’s venture arm is a Flarion shareholder and T-Mobile is trialing Flarion’s technology in the Netherlands.
It’s quite interesting that Flarion and other proprietary technology vendors are getting attention in Europe, because European operators, historically, have been very adamant about only supporting worldwide standards, such as GSM. But in competitive markets where the demand for broadband is real, perhaps operators are beginning to open up to other ideas.